For a show that is essentially one big game of penny slots, Tipping Point is quite the success story.
A mainstay on ITV’s daytime schedule, it reaches over 8 million people a week and is about to hit a huge milestone - its 1000th episode.
While a new series was being filmed, HuffPost UK went down to the Tipping Point studios to play with the famous machine and chat to host Ben Shephard, where we uncovered a wealth of secrets you probably didn’t know about the show...
1. Tipping Point is filmed at The Bottle Yard Studios, which is near an industrial estate in Hengrove, Bristol.
2. The studios are also home to the Crystal Maze and the Sky comedy series Trollied is filmed there. Some scenes for Broadchurch were also shot in the studios, as were interior scenes for Poldark and Sherlock.
3. Filming a whole series of Tipping Point takes place in a three-month block, with episodes usually filmed from Monday to Wednesday.
4. The series currently being filmed consists of 165 regular episodes, and 13 editions of the celebrity special, Lucky Stars.
5. These episodes, which include the 1000th edition, will not hit our screens until April 2020.
6. Host Ben Shephard bases himself in Bristol for the three filming days, before commuting back to London to present Good Morning Britain on Thursdays and Fridays, and hosting Sky Sport coverage at the weekends.
“It’s brilliant for my family because they don’t see me!” Ben laughs. “It’s one of those things, that for a very concentrated part of the year, my work schedule gets very hectic. It gets a bit easier out of the football season, but the good thing about GMB is that it finishes early, so I can pick my boys up from school and hang out.”
7. Up to four shows are filmed each day, with recording taking place pretty much back-to-back.
8. Ben will change his outfit between each recording to make it look as if all the episodes have been filmed on different days.
9. The celebrity specials are filmed at the end of each filming block.
10. For Lucky Stars, seating is put up in the studio, as the regular edition does not feature an audience.
11. This is what the studio looks like up close...
12. And if you’d ever wondered what the back of the machine looks like, then wonder no more…
13. While that may make it look like it is just people dropping counters into the machine, Ben insisted to us the machine is genuinely controlled by a computer.
“It’s a really complicated system that is run by the gallery,” he explains. “It’s such a complicated set up, which is why when people ask if we can take it on the road, that’s the reason why we can’t.”
14. The ladders are simply there to allow members of the production team to fill up the machine with the counters ready for them to drop.
15. Revealing what the person sat in the chair behind the machine does, Ben says: “He has to make sure the hydraulics are going at the right pace, because sometimes they can be too fast. He has to make sure the hoppers that feed the counter are full.”
16. To begin with, 80 counters are placed on the top shelf of the machine, and 80 on the bottom shelf.
17. While they are placed rather than dropped, they are not arranged into any particular order.
“Usually, they are all put in the same way, but if they’re fractionally further forward or further back, it can change the game dramatically,” Ben claims.
18. While you don’t see this in the show, there is actually a runner that comes onto set to count the number of coins that fall into the collection bin so that Ben can then tell the contestants how much money they have earned.
19. The runners also come onto set to clear the dropped counters after each round.
20. The counters are individually polished before each show so that no fingerprints or marks show up on camera.
21. When we played Tipping Point in the studio, the loudest sound was actually the pistons on the machine pushing the shelf back and forth.
22. This is what the back of Ben’s podium looks like...
23. If an answer to a question needs clarification, filming stops and Ben is fed information in his ear, before he then repeats it back to the contestant.
24. Ben came up with the language which is used to describe different types of drops, such as a “hectic drop” or a “boomerang drop” or a “ghost drop” or a “sketchy top shelf”.
“When the contestants come in and start describing them like that, I get a real moment of joy,” Ben says.
25. A new term Ben has coined during filming for the new series is a “maverick drop”, which describes when the contestant releases the counter at totally the wrong time but somehow it ends up working out for them. “I’m hoping it catches on,” he says.
26. So what is the best way to play the machine then?
“You drop it as the shelf is coming back towards you!” Ben exclaims. “Don’t do it when it’s going back towards the machine!”
27. The show’s fans have also started contributing to the language too.
“The whole thing of an ‘edge surfer’ came from a group of soldiers in the British Army in Afghanistan, who watched it every day when they came off shift,” Ben explains. The term is used when a counter falls over the top shelf but stays on its edge and gets pushed on its edge before falling down.
28. The programme is aired in other countries, with Ben revealing it is shown in South Africa and New Zealand.
29. There are over 70 people who work on the show, and here they all are...
30. Ben can’t quite believe the show has made it to 1,000 episodes, as he wasn’t convinced it would catch on when he first played a stripped back version of the show in a rehearsal room in Waterloo back in 2012.
He says: “The person who designed the machine was going across the top and having to drop the counters in. I was going, ‘This is bonkers!’ and while it was really involving and really fun, could I have predicted doing it seven years later? No way.”
Tipping Point airs weekdays at 4pm on ITV.